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Alton Garrison - Wednesday Morning Plenary Session 3

Alton Garrison challenged delegates to be honest about the long term impact of the missional movement. With its traditional focus on conversion, and not on discipleship, an important key is missing - discipleship is the missing engine. He quoted Dr. John Perkins: "We have over-evangelized the world too lightly. Evangelism actually becomes counter-productive to the purposes of God’s church when it is not partnered with discipleship.”


Why The Missional Church Will Fail
"We have a myopic view of just the starting point of salvation. Barna statistics show that eight to 12 weeks is the length of time of most converts’ experience with Christianity. Often they don’t plug into a local church after the initial conversion. But it should be about transformed lives."

So what does a fully devoted follower of Christ look like?

  •  Spiritual disciplines are important, but are they sufficient? Is doing more and knowing more all there is to becoming a better disciple?
  • If human effort alone could produce effective disciples, why are the discipleship outcomes so disappointing? We have raised a generation of people that don’t act like what they say they believe.
  • Why can’t we take the journey into a deeper relationship with the God of the Bible? What’s missing is life in the Spirit.
  • Flesh will never default into holiness. What is needed is a supernatural life that is begun with a supernatural encounter with the Spirit. Learning and doing can easily leave us exhausted and pride-filled.
  • We must embrace not just a theological stance, but also a relational theology of the Spirit and power for all ages and stages of spiritual development.

We need:

  • A fresh encounter with Jesus
  • Fullness of the Holy Spirit
  • Frequent experiences of Scripture
  • Faithful engagement with God’s people

Explore, embrace, experience and express.

  • Learning and doing (education and effort) without encounter is counterproductive.
    • Many have traded holiness for respectability.
    • The classroom is important, but should never replace the prayer room.
    • We can’t truly live the life God calls us to without the power of the Holy Spirit. So we hear about the need to show forgiveness … and maybe we can forgive those who speak badly about us, but we can’t forgive someone who kills our child on our own … we need the Holy Spirit.


  • The Spirit-empowered disciple does not experience just an event, but a complete transformation.
  • The experiential generation is ready for an experience.

    This generation is preoccupied with the paranormal. They understand that there is a reality beyond the material realm. Let them know, it’s “not by might, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord.

  • Assess your current status on the Spirit-empowered continuum.
  • Do the Book; listen to the Spirit. The Bible is not just meant to read, it’s meant to be lived.
  • Seek an accountability partner.
  • The earlier we invest in our children, the bigger the payout. (Other cultures are making a significant investment in their children from an early age … we as Christians need to do the same.)

Alton Garrison is the assistant superintendent of Assemblies of God, USA. A full recording of his session can be ordered by visiting or